It used to be when you got a room full of mayors from East Valley cities together a fight might break out. It was like they were maneuvering for the same slice of pie. These days a darn love fest happens when they come together. All they need are flowers in their hair.
An example was a recent ribbon cutting and reception for the opening of TrustBank in Mesa. The Mesa Chamber of Commerce worked with Mark Killian, whose family developed the property where the new TrustBank sits near US 60 and South Greenfield Road, to bring in a star-studded cast of dignitaries.
The gathering had Mesa Mayor Scott Smith and Gilbert Mayor John Lewis and Apache Junction Mayor John Insalaco and Queen Creek Mayor Gail Barney. Heck, even former Tempe Mayor (and candidate for governor) Hugh Hallman was there. Again, this was a ribbon cutting in Mesa.
Mayor Barney applauded how all the cities — and particularly the mayors — are working together.
“Ten years ago we fought each other to get what helped our community,” he said. “Now we work together for Arizona because we know it is good for all of us.”
“When there is growth in one place, we all grow together,” echoed Mayor Smith.
Mayor Insalaco said for many years Apache Junction felt left out of economic development projects “like a red-headed step child.” But he said that has all changed and that it is good to be part of a bigger group pulling together for economic development.
Mayor Lewis said this group of mayors has an understanding of the assets the East Valley has as a whole and how that helps each community.
“All for one and one for all, that is what is happening,” he said.
Former Tempe Mayor Hallman said this group sticks together, cooperates and works together. And the results speak for themselves.
Mark Killian — and his dad, Max Killian, a retired prominent attorney and developer — had to be beaming. After all, it was Mark as speaker of the Arizona House some 20 years ago who wrote the legislation that made Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport possible. And that has become a centerpiece to the phenomenal economic renaissance in the East Valley region over the past decade or so.
Killian, a member of the Arizona Board of Regents, helped arrange for Dr. Michael Crow, Arizona State University president, to make a keynote talk at the TrustBank event. And Dr. Crow gave a passionate message to the gathering that included some of Mesa’s most influential business people.
Dr. Crow said residents and leaders need to show pride in the success of the East Valley. He pointed to the fact the East Valley is right now one of the top technology centers in the world. He said that the density of engineers in East Valley communities would rank in the top five places in the world.
He said ASU is a top 100 in the world research university and has more than 40 technology partners from the business world. More than 30 new companies have been spawned from research at ASU.
“This is already an unbelievable cluster of technology businesses,” he said.
Dr. Crow pointed to the large and successful community college campuses in the East Valley and the five new colleges locating here as additional assets in offering the region incredible education opportunities. He also said the region boasts the highest performing K-12 system in the country — Mesa.
And he said Intel has built in the East Valley “the most sophisticated and advanced integrated circuit manufacturer on the planet.”
He described the East Valley as the most advanced place “for tool making and problem solving that exists.” He took a little jab at the Silicon Valley.
“They talk about Silicon Valley as if God lives there,” said Dr. Crow.
He said he doesn’t.
God may not live here either but when listening to Dr. Crow talk about what the East Valley has and how it will continue to get better and better, it sure seems like God has blessed it.
Sandra Hudson is Arizona Regional President for TrustBank, which is an Illinois-based wealth management company. She had several out-of-state leaders of the bank attending the event.
They should have left Arizona feeling pretty good about their investment in the East Valley.
Of course, they didn’t have to hear the mayors and Dr. Crow. They can look around and see that the East Valley is a pretty exciting place to be.
Terry Horne is publisher and editor of the East Valley Tribune and general manager of 1013 Communications Arizona, which also includes the Daily News-Sun in Sun City, the Ahwatukee Foothills News, Arizona Interactive Media, The Explorer in Tucson, Glendale-Peoria Today and Surprise Today.